Measure 37 and the California Fires

Land Use Watch has an interesting post discussing the ongoing fires in California and whether or not similar fires could happen in Oregon. The post notes that due to Oregon's land use laws, less homes are built in fire-prone areas:

But one of the reasons that, year after year, we have news stories about forest fires burning homes in California (and elsewhere) is because of the massive build-up of homes in fire prone areas. The New York Times has a great interactive piece on this very issue. People often want to be in the “middle of nature” — well, more often than not, the “middle of nature” isn’t the best place to build a house! As well, homebuilders, without concern for the long-term viability of a house, often push for authorization to build on steep, brushy slopes, right next to dry forests. That’s a terrible mix!

Fortunately, in Oregon, the large majority of homes are built within certain designated areas. That not only helps protect and preserve our farmland, forests, and natural areas, but it leads to development that is less risky in terms of human life and property.

We have huge forest fires in Oregon. They often burn millions of acres. But, fortunately, we don’t have subdivisions dotted throughout inholdings in these forests. Just imagine the cost in terms of what we as taxpayers would have to pay in terms of money (to send firefighters into risky situations to help isolated homes) and human life (both firefighters and homeowners) and property.

However, Measure 37 claims are increasing the risk of fires threatening property and lives:

As you may have read, dozens of huge timber companies are using Measure 37 to propose subdivisions in Oregon forests. Stimson Lumber. Plum Creek Timber. And on and on.

That’s presumably great for their bottom line. But it sucks for the rest of us. Not only do we lose valuable timberlands — and the corresponding benefit in terms of wildlife habitat. But we needlessly and recklessly place McMansions and lives in harm’s way.

A few days ago I wrote about Atlanta’s dire lack of water. The faucets are literally about to run dry. That’s because sprawl and unchecked development has sucked their aquifer dry.

Unchecked development has ruined other cities. Both in terms of fire and water.

In Oregon, now, we face a very scary future: 7,500 Measure 37 claims propose developments in water-limited and fire-prone areas.

Please join me in voting YES on Measure 49. Measure 49 curtails large subdivisions in rural areas, including forests and farmland. It clarifies and extends property rights for smaller claimants, while precluding the type of real estate speculation that has led to many disastrous situations in other states.

Read the rest and comment at Land Use Watch.


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